Bishop JC Ryle
He Will Burn Up the Chaff with Unquenchable Fire
In 1878, two years before he was made the first Bishop of Liverpool, The Revd JC Ryle delivered a sermon on the biblical teaching regarding the doctrine of hell. His words are as pertinent today as they were then.
“Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, Hell is real and true. It is as true as Heaven — as true as justification by faith — as true as the fact that Christ died upon the cross. There is not a fact or doctrine which you may not lawfully doubt — if you doubt Hell. Disbelieve Hell — and you unscrew, unsettle, and unpin everything in Scripture! You may as well throw your Bible away at once. From “no Hell” to “no God” there is but a series of steps.
Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, Hell will have inhabitants. The wicked shall certainly be turned into Hell, and all the people that forget God. These shall go away into everlasting punishment. The same blessed Saviour who now sits on a throne of grace, will one day sit on a throne of judgment — and men will see there is such a thing as “the wrath of the Lamb!” The same lips which now say, ”Come — come unto Me,” will one day say,”Depart from Me, you who are cursed!” Alas, how awful the thought of being condemned by Christ Himself — judged by the Saviour; sentenced to eternally misery — by the Lamb!
Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, Hell will be intense and unutterable woe. It is vain to talk of all the expressions about being only figures of speech. The pit, the prison, the worm, the fire, the thirst, the blackness, the darkness, the weeping, the gnashing of teeth, the second death — all these may be figures of speech if you please. But Bible figures mean something, beyond all question — and here they mean something which man’s mind can never fully conceive. Oh, reader, the miseries of mind and conscience, are far worse than those of the body! The whole extent of Hell, the present suffering, the bitter recollection of the past, the hopeless prospect of the future — will never be thoroughly known, except by those who go there!
Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, Hell is eternal. It must be eternal, or words have no meaning at all. Forever and ever; everlasting; unquenchable; never-dying — all these are expressions used about Hell, and expressions that cannot be explained away. It must be eternal, or the very foundations of Heaven are cast down. If Hell has an end — then Heaven has an end too. They both stand or fall together. It must be, or else every doctrine of the Gospel is undermined. If a man may escape Hell at length without faith in Christ, or sanctification of the Spirit — then sin is no longer an infinite evil, and there was no such great need for Christ making an atonement.
And where is there warrant for saying that Hell can ever change a heart, or make it fit for Heaven? Hell must be eternal, or Hell would cease to be Hell altogether. Give a man hope — and he will bear anything. Grant a hope of deliverance, however distant — and Hell is but a drop of water. Ah, reader, these are solemn things!”